Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Devotional Reading 220211

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thanks for some of your prayer, I had a fruitful weekend preaching in Vancouver, Canada. God spoke through me to challenge this historical church (100 years old) in the heart of Vancouver Chinatown. I had the opportunity to minister to the English and Chinese congregations. The Mandarin group was vibrant and active in serving the Lord. Pray that God will continue to revive this congregation for His Kingdom.

Unless one takes the time to turn inward and be silent, meditation and the spiritual quest will not get very far. We seldom find God in a hurry, or in bits and pieces of reflection on a day of busy activity. An efficiently busy life, which keeps us occupied without being harried and keeps our attention entirely on interesting outer things, is probably more potentially destructive of spiritual growth than debauchery or alcohol or hard drugs…On the other hand, a quiet, efficient and busy life spent continuously in good works can shield an individual most effectively from any plunge into the depth where God dwells. Time for silence is a prime requisite for finding that inner depth through meditation.

The reason that most of us fill up our time and stay busy is that we are afraid to be alone. We do not want to deal with everything we find in ourselves. It seems that if we will just keep busy enough, we won’t have to deal with them. But that is an illusion. Fact of the matter is, if we stay busy enough, we do not even notice the mischief our inner demons are doing to others.

People find excellent reasons for turning to these Eastern practices since the Church makes almost no effort to offer instruction about such practices, or even to suggest that finding God is an even more vitally important reason for meditating. Are we afraid to ask this much of people, or has Western religion been so brainwashed by our emphasis on the material world that we really don’t think there is value in taking time to turn inward? Or has Christianity lost its under- standing that spirit can restore both body and mind?

For a long time the Church was sure of the value of time for meditation. The early Church simply assumed that all Christians would have their daily times of meeting the Risen Lord. When Christians lived with the knowledge that at any moment they might be apprehended and condemned to death for the treasonous art of supporting an illegal religion, they had reason to seek this presence. I doubt if they could have survived the tensions of that world and changed it as thoroughly as they did without the vivid consciousness of God’s presence.

In the Protestant Reformation there was an attempt to provide some sense of responsibility for the average Christian. In some sects there was a measure of success, but when religion for most people was a matter legislated for them, it was hard to persuade many of them to take the religious life seriously. In the end the theologians of most of the major Protestant groups concluded that humankind was caught in a totally physical world, shut off from any experience except the physical one. In the long run most people are more consistent than we generally realize, and Protestants of almost every brand fell in line with the understanding that it is silly to think of stopping to get in touch with another dimension or realm of reality. Thus there is little understanding of the practice of meditation among the standard Protestant groups. I remember how it worried one of my professors in the seminary that some of us were always in chapel before the rest. He considered us a little too intense and thought it might well represent some psychological imbalance. As a result of this attitude more and more Christians have turned to TM or Zen or Hare Krishna.

There is good reason for letting go of enforced routines of prayer and imposed periods of silence in the religious Orders. No one can force another person to take the inner way. Turning inward is a venture that each of us must assent to and pursue on our own, because we desire it. It turns sour if another tries to take me by the hand and pull me along against my will. Unless I ask for these experiences out of my own need or for my own reasons, I can receive little spiritual insight or guidance from them, and I am likely to feel put upon, or even tyrannized in the most devastating way.

I had a lot of quiet time while I was in Vancouver. I chose not to go anywhere but spending time with the Lord at my host home or at the airport. My plane was delayed in San Francisco for 2 hours because of weather problem, and delayed again in Vancouver for another 2 hours because of mechanical problem upon return. It gave me some quantity time to spend with the Lord. I enjoyed the quiet time to draw close to the Lover of my soul, and allowed Him to speak freely to me while I was “wasting” my time at the airport. It was an interesting experience to see people rushing around you but you feel so serene to be with the Lord in prayer and meditation. We need this kind of quiet time to rejuvenate our whole being. It is truly a gift from God that we are created with this ability to interact with God and in touch with the spiritual realm.

Hope you can find time to rest and focus on the Lord in prayer and meditation…

With Love in Him,

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